Welcome to remote working and its many challenges. Chief among them, keeping our minds nimble as we learn to work in greater isolation. Whether you’re a marketer or agency creative, an educator, or just a professional whose work requires fresh ideas and inspiration to fuel productivity, here are our top tips for sparking your creativity when working from home.
1. Manage Distractions
Establish a work base. Pick a quiet space where you can focus on the tasks at hand and reliably report every day. This can help you create a new normal for your daily work routine. Try to make it a place where you can avoid the distractions of the fridge, tv, and your family. Let’s face it, we all do our best work when we’re able to fully immerse ourselves and engage that sense of energized focus, or flow-state, that can drive creative thinking, and in-turn productivity.
2. Curate Inspiration
Inspiration can be a fickle thing. So when it pops-up, pin it. Be deliberate about noting and capturing the things that spark your imagination, fuel your creativity, and prick your curiosity. Place these muses in your workspace. Put up a corkboard, open an account on Pinterest, start a scrapbook, just make a point of filling your environment with things that charge your creative batteries.
3. Stretch Yourself
While stretching your mind, don’t overlook the opportunity to stretch your body. Stand up and touch your toes, do a few jumping jacks, or stretch your legs with a few laps around your remote work base. Stretching improves blood flow and oxygenation, refreshing your body and mind, boosting creativity.
4. Get Outside Your Box
Go outside. Even when practicing social distancing, getting outside into the fresh air and sunshine for a moment is possible and important. Take some time alone in your apartment courtyard, your house’s garden, or in your local park to observe the natural environment. Bring a notebook or your phone with you to jot down any elusive inspirations or fleeting thoughts that might dance across your mind as you explore.
5. Apply a Method to Your Madness
Explore different methodologies for idea generation. Lateral thinking, personification, mind-mapping, and brainstorming are a few popular ones you can try. For more examples of ideation methodologies and information on how to use them, see our article, 10 Methodologies for Unboxing Your Creativity.
6. Reach Out to Your Team
Working remotely doesn’t have to mean working alone. Creativity cannot exist in a vacuum, so remember to reach out to your colleagues. Yes, emails are annoying, but you can connect in many other ways. Don’t let the distance between you stop the exchange of ideas.
Burst your creative blocks with a bit of brainstorming. Let your gears spin and jot down any and everything that comes to mind, as you examine the task at hand. Then have a look at what you’ve got. See if there’s anything there you can build upon, or that triggers a new line of thinking. If you want to supercharge your brainstorming session, loop others in with a digital brainstorm. There are many tools for online brainstorming or mind-netting, and BRAINSTORM Online is a great one. Designed with remote workers and learners in mind, it helps you collaborate on brainstorms quickly and efficiently from anywhere, anytime. For more on collaborative ideation see our article, 5 Top Tips for Productive Brainstorming.
When searching for ways to cultivate creativity, why not look in a book? Reading is an excellent way to expand your mind and find new perspectives that can lead to fresh ideas. But if you’re looking for a quick fix, there’s no shortage of books on creative ideation and innovation. Check out our blog article, Books, Movies & Quotes to Fuel Creativity, for a few recommendations.
Establishing routines, getting inspired, and ultimately finding your optimal workflow is fantastic, but it’s not sustainable. Every flow state fizzles and once “in the zone” you will eventually find yourself “zoned out”. Stress and burn-out are two major creativity blockers, so be sure to provide yourself with adequate mental breaks. That means more than putting work aside. To truly unplug you need to switch gears. Give your mind a chance to focus on something totally different, something you enjoy, even if just for 10 or 15 minutes. It can be anything, doodle, daydream, meditate, find a quiet place and take a moment to close your eyes and let your mind go blank (force it blank if you have to). Just stop the mental frazzle by letting go of the task at hand for a moment and picking up something that relaxes and rejuvenates your mind and spirit.
Remember, no one is an island. While social distancing can make teamwork more challenging, it should not halt the exchange of ideas. As you develop your remote working skills, don’t forget to incorporate communication and collaboration into your plans.